One of the interesting and fun things about being a candidate for office is the fact that people come to you and ask your opinion on things. Makes sense, I guess. I’m trying to be elected to the Legislative Branch of Knox County government. In the course of the campaign, I’ve had the opportunity to offer my opinion on issues of the day in a few places. I’ll share more about those when they come out. But, I find that if I’m writing an answer to some question that is asked of me, I have more to say about some things than the venue permits. So I’ve had to provide some shortened answers in those situations. But here at my campaign website, the space is unlimited. Therefore, I’m going to take some of these questions I’ve gotten, do some long form answers to them and put them on the ol’ campaign website. Enjoy.
There are two issues that have to do with walkability in Knox County that are currently being discussed at the Commission. I thought I would share some thoughts on those.
At the Commission’s work session on January 21, 2020, they approved a resolution adopting the Knox County Greenway Corridor Study which recommends approximately 65 miles of greenway alignment in the County. You can see the study here (fair warning it’s 96 pages long).
I agree with the Commission’s adoption of this resolution. I think an expanded and connected greenway system in Knox County could improve the quality of life for Knox County residents. Such a system can provide alternative routes of transportation for some and an opportunity for exercise and fun in the outdoors for others. Improving our existing, mostly disconnected greenway system could be a draw for people to come visit and/or live in Knox County.
Of course, just approving a resolution like this only goes part of the way to actually getting improvement of the greenways in Knox County. This is a long term project. It’s important that the Commission follow up this vote with some actual funding in the budget to bring the projects contemplated in the Study to fruition. I will follow this closely, especially since one of the corridors studied runs along Northshore Drive, in the heart of the 4th District. As Commissioner, I will fight for including funding in future Knox County budgets for the greenway corridors included in this Study.
There is another issue before the Commission which touches upon walkability in Knox County. At the Commission’s Work Session on January 21, 2020, the Commission had a public forum for discussion of a proposed change to Chapter 54 of the Knox County Code. It appears this proposed change will roll back a requirement, adopted in 2017, that all new subdivisions in the County should include sidewalks. The change is proposed by the Jacobs administration and would require sidewalks only in certain circumstances. The final vote on this ordinance will take place on January 28, 2020 at the Commission’s monthly meeting.
From the reporting I’ve seen on this ordinance, it appears that the Jacobs Administration’s proposed change is in response to concerns of developers. This change is not unopposed, as there were several speakers from various parts of the community who came out against the change at the public forum. I believe the ordinance, as adopted in 2017, has the right focus on walkability in the County. I also note that this is the second current issue before the Commission (including the TVA East Tower Deal) where the Jacobs administration appears to be prioritizing development at the expense of ordinary citizens and residents of Knox County. I think we should pursue reasonable and responsible development in Knox County in both the commercial and residential sectors. But that means listening to the voices of all interested parties. I disagree with this proposed change and I hope the current Commissioners vote it down. If I were a Commissioner, I would vote against the proposed change to Knox County Code, Chapter 54.